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Jul 19, 2013

It’s all the rage in HR land. Many and various thought leaders and industry pundits exhorting us to build a more collaborative relationship with Finance.

Turns out that while it may make sense, it won’t be easy. Towers Watson just reported research on how the two parties feel about the whole thing in a report called, HR and Finance Partnership Opportunities.

As TW points out “HR and Finance have a shared mandate: Reduce costs, sustain or enhance productivity, and keep the talent pipeline full . . . a tall order that neither function can effectively do alone.” Thing is, HR seems to be the one asking for a dance partner, while Finance is saying, “I’m just fine, thank you.”

More collaboration? Finance is holding back

When asked if they would like more collaboration in the future, here’s how things turned out:

                                                  Finance              HR

More collaboration                 49%                   70%

No change                               36%                   25%

Less collaboration                   2%                     0%

It’s no surprise that Finance is the one hanging back. After all, HR is just one of many functions they need to work with. It’s logical that we’re the ones who need to make the first move to change the relationship.

But if we have any hope of bridging the gap, HR also needs to note the wide disparity in attitude. And, just like in any other complex relationship that is at a stalemate, we need to be the ones to figure out how to initiate the change.

The TW research gives us some good insights into how to build a better relationship.

How to build a better relationship

Finance and HR seem to have similar values: Invest in rewards to drive ROI and tie rewards to financial performance. We also seem to prioritize metrics in a similar way. But it looks like HR wants to work together on budgets more than Finance does. And Finance may want to have a bit more input into HR strategies than we currently want them to have.

Trying to figure what this means for you and your department? Take a look at the TW findings to see how you can use them to strategize with the people in your Finance Department. Consider putting more time into the personal relationships you have with those in Finance.

If Finance and HR really do share that much in common, HR could take the relationship a long way by finding ways to listen to, and commiserate with, Finance.

Can you get them to lunch? Or just stop by their lunch table in the cafeteria … or, or, or. And give yourself time and permission to talk about something else but work for a while.

This was originally published at the Compensation Café blog, where you can find a daily dose of caffeinated conversation on everything compensation.